John Stamos Is Using His Pure Imagination To Pay Tribute To Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka

John Stamos plays Willy Wonka in new show

John Stamos is ready to make magic with his sweetest role yet. Stamos, who is best known for his television work on the hit shows Full House and ER, will take on the lead role in a live concert-to-film production of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. John will play the iconic chocolatier in the high-profile event slated for the Hollywood Bowl on November 4, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

In a statement about the project, John Stamos revealed that when he was a child, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was the first movie he ever saw at a movie theater. John said he even brought his own bag of popcorn to the 1971 Gene Wilder flick but was so mesmerized by the story that the huge bag sat untouched.

“It was back in a time when you could bring your own popcorn into the theater and I made this giant shopping bag of popcorn and when Gene Wilder came on the screen, I never even ate the popcorn,” John revealed.

“I was like, ‘What is happening here?’ It was just one of those early performances that hit me to the core. That moment when he comes out of the doors and does that somersault … it was the first time I was ever really moved by entertainment like that.”

In the new musical extravaganza, John Stamos will play the mysterious Willy Wonka opposite Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard as Charlie Bucket. Other stars include Elle King as bratty teen Veruca Salt and “Weird Al” Yankovic as the Oompa Loompas. John Stamos and an all-star cast will perform iconic songs with live musicians as the film plays on the Hollywood Bowl’s movie screen, and as a bonus, audience members will receive Scratch-N-Sniff “golden tickets.”

While Stamos is a bit nervous about some of the musical numbers, he told reporters he is more concerned with Willy Wonka’s famous entry somersault when he greets his chocolate factory visitors.

“It’s a lot harder than it looks,” John said.

“Gene Wilder’s performance is just so magical. It’s so layered and, dare I say, dark…I do take it seriously because you have a responsibility to uphold this character and give it the respect it deserves.”

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, John Stamos admitted it is a challenge to take on a role that has been so fully associated with Gene Wilder for more than four decades.

“The key to what I’m doing is that myself and the director, Richard Kraft, we were like, how do we do this and pay tribute?” Stamos told EW. “Certainly, [we] get out of the way of Gene Wilder. What we’re going to do is, I’m going to do it within the movie and then we’re actually going to play Gene Wilder. As an encore, we’re going to do Gene Wilder’s version of ‘Pure Imagination’ because obviously it’s a pretty sacred tune and people want to see him do it as well.”

John Stamos said he is not doing an impression of Gene Wilder “by any means,” but added that he won’t stray far from what the late actor did in the original movie.

“I’m trying to find little moments in the show, which I think I found a few, that sort of represent what Gene Wilder was doing, which was you never know really when to trust him, when he’s telling the truth or when he’s lying,” John said.

While the musical numbers have challenged Stamos, the actor said he has received some advice from his good pals, the Beach Boys. John also touched on that somersault scene once again, telling EW he is still working on that move and that it’s “frightening.”

“It’s just pushing the limits to what you feel is safe,” John explained. “It’s weird, you have to get as close as you can to the ground to really kind of make it work. I think I’ll be okay. I hope.”

You can see the Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory somersault scene John Stamos is referring to below.

[Featured Image by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP Images]